Tips for Preventing the Spread of Respiratory Disease

As someone living with ALS or in contact with someone living with ALS, you should always take special precautions to safeguard your health and the health of those around you. With the latest viral outbreak, our Support Services team and the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine want to further reinforce preventative actions to prevent the spread of respiratory disease. The big message is “Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands”.

People living with ALS are at an increased risk of respiratory problems associated with viral and bacterial infections. Protect yourself, friends, family and other people living with ALS by visiting

For the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases and preparations that include:

  • Have supplies on-hand
  • Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on-hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time
  • If you cannot get extra medications, please consider using mail-order for medications
  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Have enough household items and groceries on-hand so that you will be prepared to stay home for a period of time
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people
    • Stay home as much as possible
      • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social, or commercial networks
    • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones)
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty

For the most recent information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Les Turner ALS Foundation recommends that you reference the websites for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Les Turner ALS Foundation Team